Parents, please don't forget to RSVP!
mahlon at empty birthday party
Credit: Kristen Layne/Life on Peanut Layne

I'm just gonna come right out and say it: I'm a bad RSVPer. I don't ever MEAN to neglect to respond s'il vous plait. But unless I know for certain we can attend an event and answer back the minute I receive an invitation, those suckers tend to get lost under piles of other papers and completely slip my mind.

Or at least they did until the invention of evite, with its handy little emailed RSVP reminders.

Then I read Kristen P. Layne's heartbreaking blog post about no one showing up to her son Mahlon's 9th birthday party.

"I write this post with swollen, puffy eyes, still raw and burning from crying myself to sleep on my pillow," she began. "What was supposed to be a fun filled birthday party weekend, complete with pizza, cake, games, prizes and friends, went horribly wrong."

Mahlon is a third-grader who had previously been home-schooled but recently switched to public school. The little guy was excited to invite his new classmates to his first real birthday party—a Diary of a Wimpy Kid-themed celebration based on Mahlon's favorite book series. He handed out the invitations to his friends in school and eagerly began counting down the days.

Though Kristen had asked the parents to RSVP on the invite, she hadn't received a single reply. But when she expressed her concerns with her husband, he reassured her that nobody bothers to RSVP these days. "Don't worry, they'll come," he told her. "Kids love birthday parties."

When the big day finally arrived, Mahlon was up before the sun—hanging streamers, blowing up balloons, picking out his outfit, and carefully assembling treat bags for his guests. "This is the happiest day of my life," he told his mom. "I can't wait until my friends get here!'"

But no one came. Not one single kid. Which is why Kristen then sat down to write her now-viral post, begging parents not to ignore those four little letters ever again.

"I know you're busy, tired, stressed, have a million and one other things to do," she wrote. "I'm right there with you, but please the next time you're tempted to ignore the handwritten invitation from a classmate, please remember that there could be a child sitting at an empty party table, crying into his napkin, feeling unloved and rejected."

My heart breaks for this family! And I am so grateful to Kristen for sharing her story, because I will never fail to RSVP again.

There is a silver lining here, though. Because once Kristen's post went viral, Mahlon began receiving birthday cards and gifts and shoutouts from strangers all over the world who had read his story and were moved by it. One of them was from Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney himself, who called Mahlon and gave him a personal tour of his office and studio via FaceTime!

Pretty cool! And now, of course, Kristen says people are asking her how she plans to top a call with Kinney for Mahlon's birthday next year. But according to mom, the little guy just wants what he's always wanted—to have a friend there.

"That's all it's about for him," Kristen told People. "Having friends that he can share his day with."

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website for more, and then follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.